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Ask the Profussor – Keep On Keeping On

February 7, 2012

One of these days I’ll start keeping up with all the questions to the blog as they come in. But these past few weeks have been especially busy and once again I’ve got a large heaping pile of some great questions that you all have asked over the past few weeks.

Today, I start to tackle the pile again. But there were so many questions, I’ve got to post them in batches. If Mrs. Fussy couldn’t make it through all 3,000 plus words, it’s unlikely you would either.

My commitment to you is that if you ask a question, provided that it ends with a question mark, it will eventually be answered. So keep on asking. I love the push back, the challenges, the chances to offer further clarification, and all the great things that writing on a two-way platform provides.

Now without further ado, on to the questions.

Mirdreams’ question suggests I may not have mentioned one key aspect of the story:
Given that bees pollinate these plants, why are they deliberately killing the bees?

Right. They aren’t. Even though the insecticide turns out to be toxic to bees, this pesticide was intended to kill other insects. Let’s hear it for unintended consequences.

Jon in Albany also wanted  to know:
Have you heard about the honey bee parasites?

I have. And it’s awful. Not to mention that some believe the insecticide makes the bees even more vulnerable to those deadly parasites. If only bees had enough money for better lobbyists.

Weenie Girl loves Lloyd’s local honey:
Welcome to the Lloyd Spear fan club. I love his honey and it’s available at the coop when farmers’ markets are out-of-season. Plus he has a frequent buyer card with which you can earn bonus honey. How sweet is that?

It’s totally sweet. Plus the kids love the free honey straws. But what’s this business about farmers markets being out of season? Saturday has the four-season market in Troy and Sunday has one in Schenectady. Lloyd is at both. Go direct to the source and you can skip the parking congestion of the co-op.

JessJamesJake really squeezed two questions into one comment:
Oatmeal party? We’re there.
When we were last in NYC, we tried the famed Sarabeth’s for breakfast. Have you been?

By “oatmeal party” I was suggesting that more in the Yo Gabba Gabba kind of way, then the “let’s have people over to eat oatmeal.” For those of you not familiar with this difference, I offer up the following brief video interlude.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been to Sarabeth. I liked it fine, and generally I don’t tend to take a very gendered approach to food. But I remember thinking at the time that I might like it better if I were a woman. Something about it was a little precious in a tea-with-the-girls kind of way, if that makes any sense.

Albany Jane was incredulous about the start time for the latest tour:
Hooray egg sammich tour! I’m so psyched. But… Dude, 7:30 AM?! So, you’re letting me crash at your house the night before, right?

One day there will be an Albany Jane & John sleepover. But it did not happen on the eve of the tour. I can’t recall if I have said this publicly yet. If I have, please forgive the repetition.

I’m sorry about that early start time. Ideally I would make these tours convenient for everyone. However, I also need to be cognizant of how many people I’m bringing into certain types of businesses. If a kitchen got slammed with 30 orders for egg and cheese sandwiches, one could imagine that their quality could be affected. This early start time was intended to keep participation low, and I shudder to think what the turnout would have been if we convened at 9 a.m. Luckily the next tour will be much more accommodating of a larger group.

Angelos shared his concerns about the Honest Weight Food Co-op expansion project:
The finances seem to be the real problem. Do they really need to try to compete on a sq-ft basis with the big boys? Or should they focus on being better and keeping shopper loyalty?

Have you ever noticed that when you move, you think everything is going to be different? Then you get into your new space, and you are still you. Your stuff is still your stuff. It’s just you in a different setting. I have my doubts about the coop’s plan. I want to see them succeed, but at this moment, I have little confidence in their current expansion strategy.

Bob W. had what seemed like more of a parenting question:
Alas, a birthday party for my oldest is already planned for that morning — blowing him off at this formative stage in his life for a decadent morning of egg sandwiches is unthinkable. Right?

If he’s really in the formative stage in life, it’s unlikely he’ll remember your absence from the party anyhow. When he looks back at the pictures and wonders why you aren’t in any of them, you can simply explain that you were the one with the camera. Regardless, this is probably one of those questions that should have been answered weeks ago. Sorry for failing you with this delayed response.

KB @ Home-Baked Happiness was concerned with semantics:
We spotted a pizza place in Latham the other day that advertised “Artisan Pizza.” What exactly does that mean? Is it like “gourmet pizza”? Or is it just “pizza made from scratch,” which one would hope is ALL pizza not frozen in a box?

It would imply that the pizza was made entirely by hand. I would be curious to check it out and see if they use pizza screens. It’s easy to tell by inspecting the bottom crust of a slice. If it contains telltale crosshatches, the pizzeria used a screen to ensure a consistent size and circular shape. To me, this is not artisanal pizza. But it’s a word anyone can use for anything. Let’s hope the place in Latham actually earns the right to make the claim.

Sarah M. has compelled me to address her grievances:
Why no love for Max London’s, Daniel B.? (I’m asking so you’re forced to answer me directly in an Ask The Profussor.) Granted, their pizza offerings aren’t quite as “gourmet” (ew, worst word) as Mozza, but what at first glance may seem typical Albany (BLT pizza) is heaps better (the L is for leeks!).

Are you sitting down? I’ve actually still yet to make it up to Max London’s. It’s shameful, I know. But I have highlighted the restaurant’s good works on the blog in the past. Their exclusion from the post on gourmet pizza had more to do with a focus on the rise of gourmet pizza via Wolfgang Puck out in Los Angeles. It was not intended to be a snub. I was simply trying to make a different point.

Matt K. clearly needs to eat some more Korean food. Luckily, he asked:
Any good Korean places you know about?

We have one widely hailed Korean chef locally, and while she has Korean dishes on the menu at her new restaurant Mingle on Delaware Avenue, they are crazy expensive for what they are. I say go to Kinnaree. It’s not the best Korean food you’ll ever have, but having not had any for a while, I thought it was decidedly decent. Certainly, it’s your best bet in the area.

Veganrose wanted to know more about buying fermented pickled cabbage:
Do you have a favorite place for buying kimchee?

Nope. I pick up mass quantities of the stuff at the Asian Supermarket. There is probably better kimchee out there. I’m looking forward to trying the stuff Albany Jane made at home. There is some that is locally made by professional pickle makers that is crazy expensive. I’ve yet to give it a try, but I’m not going to pay a lot for kimchee. However, I may try making some at home, especially given how easy A.J. made it look.

Awesomedude has some spunk, and I hope he takes this in the spirit it’s intended:
How about a category for restaurant with the worst name?…thought of this category driving down Madison Ave. this morning going past “Asian Place”

It’s funny, but no. Although if we were going to do it, I might vote for Barcelona.

Burnt My Fingers asked the question that was burning on everyone’s lips:
Will the Natural Cheetos still give me orange fingertips?

No, it won’t. They are white. Naturally.

Chris has been out of grade school for a long time and may not realize something:
My granddaughter couldn’t bring cupcakes to preschool for her birthday. Really? Dessert is now a bad thing?

There’s a lot going on here. There is the size of the classes, so that one cupcake could potentially be 20 or more cupcakes when all is said and done. Then there is the issue of food allergies or intolerances, and providing any food from the outside for the class as a whole.  Of course there is the baseline health and wellbeing of kids these days, with juvenile diabetes being no laughing matter.

I miss the days of a good cupcake party. I remember them fondly. Maybe I’ll need to add that into the repertoire of our kids’ birthday parties outside of school. Because little is more fun to a kid than being able to douse a bit of cake with icing and all manner of sweet things.

Eric Scheirer Stott has been bitten by the FUSSYlittleTOUR bug:
BTW- would a Tour de Homefries be a little to heavy for most people?

Forget about heavy. The bigger problem is that it falls a bit beyond the scope of a tour. I try not just to focus on foods that are delicious, but those that are especially noteworthy to our region. Fish Fry, Mini-Hot Dogs, Cider Donuts, Egg and Cheese on a Hardroll, and Soft Serve all have that in common. Disco fries have been suggested, and that could be interesting. But things like burritos and corned beef hash decidedly are not.

I’m really glad that jenh718 asked this question, because I’ve got the answer:
Salt is a flavor enhancer and if it didn’t add anything to already cooked food, why would people use finishing salts?

Texture. Flavor too, as crunching down on a flake of salt isn’t purely about its feeling in your mouth. But salt works in layers. It’s not that salt can’t add anything to a finished dish. But if you are relying on it purely at the end, your food simply isn’t going to be as good. If you don’t believe me, you should try it at home as an experiment to see for yourself.

I think I’m a little late for Brent on this one:
I will be in South Beach on vacation with the little woman for the Super Bowl. Any dining recommendations?

If you are still there, get to Shuckers stat. It’s off the beaten path. It’s not a touristy spot and it’s not fancy. But it’s on the water, and it is totally a taste of the real Miami Beach before it was invaded by models and assh*les. I only found this place because I had friends who lived in the neighborhood. One of whom was a CIA trained chef who worked for some of the best places in NYC and would come here for their grilled wings and beers when he wasn’t working. It looks like I Yelped the joint almost five years ago.

If you have left South Florida, I offer my apologies. I’ll try and do better in the future. But first I’ve got to finish digging out from the backlog. More answers to come in a few days.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. February 7, 2012 11:42 am

    Sigh. The salt thing. I stand by every last word of my response in the earlier salt post. I am well aware that you do not only salt food at the end of cooking, no home experiments necessary.

    As far as Chris’ cupcake dilemma goes, it has nothing to do with juvenile diabetes and everything to do with the allergy police. At our school we can’t bring in home made goods for birthday parties but you know what is an acceptable store bought item? OREOS! Muthaflipping OREOS. If the schools were concerned with juvenile diabetes, this would not be the approved store bought item for birthday parties.

    Home cooks can’t be trusted to bake something allergy free (provided there is an allergy in that particular class) but we trust in good ol’ Oreos. It’s total bullshit.

    • neighbor permalink
      March 29, 2012 8:16 pm

      I understand this policy, from an institutional safety & liability standpoint… But it is pretty frustrating. My son has food allergies, and even if one of the other parents of a kid in his class *with the same allergies* prepares something, and I send in a letter saying it’s ok for him to eat it, he’s still not allowed to. He’s only allowed to have things at school that are either 1) packaged and labelled or 2) sent from home by us.

  2. February 7, 2012 12:31 pm

    Really sorry for this, but I’m going to be a real bee-otch for a moment.

    You referenced juvenile diabetes while discussing cupcakes in school. I’m assuming that you mean juvenile diabetes is a health matter associated with poor diet. That’s not necessarily true. Juvenile diabetes (Type I) is when the pancreas completely stops making insulin, or makes insufficient quantities of it. Type I diabetics is insulin-dependent, and as of yet there is no cure for Type I diabetes except to continuously pump insulin into one’s body, whereas Adult Onset diabetes (Type II) is reversible with proper diet and medication. Often, Type II diabetes is caused by poor diet (like too many cupcakes), while there is so sufficient evidence that shows Type I is caused by diet (rather, studies are showing there is a potential genetic predisposition to developing Type I diabetes, most prevalent among those of Scandinavian heritage). So the diabetic nomenclature is misleading: Juvenile diabetes can develop at any stage in life, as can adult onset.

    That’s a very simplistic explanation. Sorry to rant!! I feel better now :)

  3. February 7, 2012 12:39 pm

    Hear hear Jen!

  4. February 7, 2012 12:47 pm

    1. What are “disco fries”?
    2. If I had to ask what they are, and I’m a local, then they’re not a regional specialty, or else I would’ve heard of them by now.

    • Bob W. permalink
      February 7, 2012 1:33 pm

      I second this inquiry…disco fries are not on my radar.

      All it brought to mind was “Disco Stu doesn’t NEED to advertise…his fries.”

  5. Kerosena permalink
    February 7, 2012 3:47 pm

    Similar, but no curds. Sometimes it’s sliced cheese melted over the fries, sometimes it’s similar to cheez whiz.

  6. February 7, 2012 6:05 pm

    I’ve had cheese fries, and I’ve had gravy fries, but combining the two may be meddling with the primal forces of nature.

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